My first week in Sorrento

Arriving at Sant’Anna Institute was the most pleasing sight that I could have asked for. After many airports and many long hours, it was amazing. It’s been about nine days since we’ve all arrived, and every day I still can’t believe that I made it to Italy. For me, it’s a personal dream come true. Everything here is just as lovely as I expected it to be; the sights, the food, the people. Everyone that I have met both at Sant’Anna and around the town of Sorrento have been so nice and welcoming. Although the school is very small compared to what I am used to back in America, everyone is getting along better than expected and we all hang out together, often. The best blessing at Sant’Anna has been my roommate. Coming here, I was so nervous about who I was going to be living with because my last roommate experiences have not been the best. The friends that I have made this far have also been the sweetest people that I could have hoped to be friend. They have made my beginning experience at Sant’Anna and in Sorrento much more enjoyable and stress free.

In the beginning days of my study abroad adventure in Sorrento, the cultural differences and surroundings were obviously very different than my usual sights in America. There’s not really a large grocery store or chain store around such as Walmart or Target, but rather small markets scattered around the city. They’re small and cute and have everything I need, most of the time. Sometimes I do need to go to multiple markets to find everything that I want to buy. Public transportation is more prevalent here as well. In America, the only kind of public transportation that was available to me was the school bus or campus shuttle, and sometimes the metro to Washington D.C. and the subway in New York City when I visited my friends. But the biggest change that I see, and personally stresses me out, are the roads and the driving. In Italy, the roads are much smaller, and most of the time it seems that they’re barely large enough to fit two passing cars. Many more people have motorcycles or scooters compared to the United States. It’s amazed me since day 1 that I haven’t seen an accident yet, despite how dangerous everything seems.

I started an internship at Ieranto Bay, about an hour away from Sant’Anna. The other interns and I have to travel there by bus, then take about a 30 to 45-minute hike to get to the area. I don’t think that I will ever intern in a more beautiful place than Ieranto Bay. The water is so clear that I can see a significant distance below my feet without question of what it may be. The first day of the internship, we hiked, did a beach clean-up, kayaked around the bay, and snorkeled into an underwater cave. It was way more than what I was expecting to do on the first day because the first day of my previous internship, we sat at computers and did orientation modules for many hours. Comparing this internship to the internships that the other students at Sant’Anna have, we were certainly lucky because this one is by far the most exciting, immersive, and thrilling. Seeing the work that the other volunteers do for the marine protected area is incredible, too. They inform the public about the importance of the ocean and its impact in our everyday lives. That information is vital, because the general public usually isn’t aware of just how much the marine environment is involved in our daily lives. The project also involves going to schools and teaching kids about the marine environments near them, such as Ieranto Bay, and of course the Mediterranean Sea. When knowledge is taught at a younger age, it can potentially inspire kids to go into the marine conservation fields, or even any environmental field in general. Personally, I was exposed to the beauty and importance of the ocean at a young age, and so from when I was about 6 years old, I’ve had a constant desire to work with the marine environment and here I am!

I have high hopes for this internship as well, because I love hands on learning, and I feel as though I’ll get a lot of experience working directly with my environment with this work. At my home university, most, if not all of the experiences are inside the lab with very few excursions. I’m not able to go anywhere as beautiful with this much biodiversity back home.

A very fun and exciting thing to me are the volunteers and how they’re from all around Europe, and of course the Americas too since we’re now here. I’ve never been outside of America previously to this experience, and so meeting all these people from all over is so interesting and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester brings.